M’liss Henry – chief coach and founder of Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre was inducted into the WA women’s hall of fame on Thursday March 7.
The 75-year-old has had an extraordinary life filled with achievements.
M’liss grew up on a rural station in Condoblin, central NSW. After her schooling at age 17, she returned to help run the family station during a drought.
At age 21, M’liss was selected as a reserve to go to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where only men were selected to actually ride for the equestrian team. M’liss recalls change rooms weren’t even constructed for women because they didn’t expect there would be any females there.
Following the Olympics, she travelled the world extensively and rode racehorses for trainers in both India and France.
After returning to Australia, M’liss married before moving to Perth, where she found Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre (CTRC) in 1972, which became the first Riding for the Disabled in Western Australia.
CTRC grew as a paddock in Mt Claremont which only operated on a part-time basis, to a now 9-acre complex, complete with permanent stables, yards, paddocks and a 70x30 indoor riding arena. It remains in the heart of Claremont and provides a unique service which wouldn’t otherwise be accessible so close to the CBD
46 years later, M’liss still continues to passionately run the riding centre 5 days a week, coaching 160 clients. She encourages all riders to learn to ride to the best of their ability and to bring about self-change and integration in society.
Some of M’liss recent accomplishments include:
2008, M’liss was awarded an OAM for services to community and people with a disability.
2008/9, M’liss accompanied Aimee Blakiston to England, France and Italy to compete in the Para Olympic dressage events in the hope of qualifying for the Paralympic games in Hong Kong.
2014, took 2 riders to the Hope Cup in Taiwan.
2015, coached and accompanied WA rider Sara Cann to Special Olympics in Las Angeles.
2017, awarded Coach of the Year for the WA Disabled Sports Association.
2019, Special Olympic Equestrian Coordinator for WA
M’liss is humbled by the award. “I’m totally overwhelmed and surprised. It is a great honour.”
Supplied by CTRC and Equestrian Australia